Happy podcast-iversary to me! I’ve been podcasting now for sixteen months, but just passed the 52 episode mark, which seems like the official time to celebrate. (As to why it took longer than a year? I also hosted another podcast and couldn’t quite hack both. That’s a freebie: don’t take one two or three podcasts at a time your first year.) For this episode, we’re talking about what I learned in a year of podcasting.
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What I Learned in a Year of Podcasting
About the Technical Side of Podcasting
It takes many more hours than you’d think. Each episode takes maybe a total of like 3-5 hours. Sometimes with my shorter solo podcasts, it’s only 1-2 hours. That includes recording, editing, writing up show notes, doing all the meta data stuff, uploading to my media host, and actually publishing. It’s a LOT. If you don’t have a lot of time, don’t start a podcast.
Like everything else on the web, you have to WORK to find an audience. I assumed that since I had been blogging for years, I would have no trouble getting thousands of downloads. The reality is that most of my original audience didn’t carry over (to the new blog OR the podcast), which shouldn’t have been surprising to me. After all, I started the podcast and Create If Writing site because my lifestyle blog peeps couldn’t care less about writing, blogging, and social media. But it still surprised me. A year in and I really want better numbers. I’m on a steady climb. But it’s work. And audiences for blogs don’t necessarily cross over to podcasts.
Despite all the popular trainings that say you’ll get rich podcasting, you will not get rich podcasting. See the part about it taking 3-5 hours to publish and also the part about struggling to find listeners. There is money to be made. People are making money. I still hope to do that one day. But about a month in, I realized that making money was a long way off.
You need a workflow for editing. My biggest struggle for the first bunch of months was editing. Yes, there are YouTube videos for everything. But they all say different things. And I would encounter an issue, look up a YouTube video, spend an hour watching and trying to implement, and everything would sound worse than it did in the beginning. I finally hired an editor, but that only worked when I was getting paid for my other podcast gig. I went to Podcast Movement in 2015 with the goal of learning to edit sound myself and after ONE amazing session with Meron Bareket, I DID. I can’t sing his praises enough. I now have a workflow that takes me five minute to edit sound. THANK YOU, MERON. Check out his free podcasting checklist.
There are two kinds of editing. So…my mention above was for sound editing. There is also CONTENT editing. Some people just leave everything in, but I realized quickly I’m not one of those people. I edit out mouth sounds (especially lip smacks) and sometimes loud breathing (more of this is happening now that I’m pregnant and out of breath) and excessive ums or longer pauses. After my five minutes of sound editing, there is always an hour or two of content editing. Maybe one day I’ll chill, but probably not. 🙂
You will begin to edit yourself. Because a few things really annoy me, I found that I autocorrect myself. As in, I RARELY make those lip smacking noises anymore and when I’m recording, I’m very aware of my pronunciation and the way my mouth is moving. I’ve also cut way down on ums. This is the third kind of editing. I’m pretty happy with the effect on my overall speech. Thanks, podcasting.
You really DON’T need to spend a billion on equipment. Everyone talks about the Yeti because it’s like the sexy mic with a fun name that looks cute. But based on what I hear from multiple sound professionals, my trusty, un-sexy ATR2100 is the way to go. There are different kinds of mics, dynamic and condenser. The dynamic (which is the ATR) cuts out more background noise. The condenser will make your sound editing more difficult. I hear great podcasts from people with the Yeti, but when it’s more money and the sound quality will be harder to achieve, why not go with the unsexy? The ATR is generally about $60 and other than buying Ecamm Call Recorder for recording my interviews, I pay my monthly Libsyn media fees and I’m good to go. I use the free Audacity program to edit and I have my site on WordPress. Simple stuff.
I talk too much. I had to edit SO MUCH OF MYSELF out of my early interviews. They were rambling. I talked. And talked. And talked. It was super embarrassing to hear these monologues back as I edited. So I got better at this, too, over time. I still like a more conversational podcast, but I had to tell myself to shut the heck up. Mentally. Not out loud. Because that would be weird.
I CAN talk alone. My very first solo show was a wreck. I think I called myself a weirdo like four times. A friend nicely told me after that episode that I needed to trust myself more. And also that I should smile more when I talk. Done and done. THANKS, LIZ!!! I now write out the briefest of notes for my solo shows and blow right through them. I guess I channeled all the me I now edit out of my interview podcasts and put them right into the solo shows.
I’m a perfectionist about SOME things. Remember that bit about editing out lip smacking sounds? Yep. I do that. And I do it for my guests. And I can’t stop! While I’m happy to let some things just slide (um: housework, anyone?), I can’t NOT spend a lot of time editing my podcasts.
I’m good on the fly. Okay, so truly I learned this in college the time I had an oral report due and realized in the first five minutes of class that I had prepared all my literary criticism and notes on THE WRONG TOPIC and had ten minutes to plan a twenty minute oral report right then and there. After that, what can life throw at me? But it can really be intimidating to interview big time people that I’ve looked up to for (in some cases) YEARS. I get nervous still when I hit the call button, but after that, I love talking with people. It’s easy. Fun even. I’m not sure this skill has a practical application in real life, but it makes interviews fun.
About General Podcasting
Always know how to say names. I constantly started an interview and, after saying my guest’s name, had to stop and say, “Wait– is THAT how you say your name?” Also, my name is hard, so I started sending out a note that said “Kirsten rhymes with BEER-sten.” Figure names out before you go live or even get your guest on the phone.
Go to the bathroom first. I will not divulge with which guest this happened, but I may have allegedly peed into a cup (while my mic was muted, duh) during an interview. Ahem. #proudmoment
Be respectful of time. Let guests know how long the interview will take and DON’T GO OVER. Unless you realize that things are on a roll and you ask if it’s okay if you go a little long to finish a train of thought.
Set expectations. I didn’t always send out a little document with what to expect and it was ALWAYS a mistake not to. I had people do interviews while in the room with other people who were talking and eating or people not know they needed earphones or just a lot of things they needed to know. Sometimes I did say this in email, but without a little document PLUS the email, people didn’t always get it. Be sure they know what you need them to do. Especially if they aren’t podcasters or used to doing audio interviews.
Podcasting is addictive. I have now been at the helm of three shows. One is still going on. Another I hope to resurrect. One died, but I’ll be repurposing the content here, which is excellent news! You start a podcast and you may fall in love. Forever love. Launching multiple podcasts might be something that happens to you. This will likely not be my only one. It’s just too fun!
I can’t even begin to say what I learned from all my guests. It’s all soaked up in me, sponge-like. Sometimes I had amazing conversations that weren’t recorded. I feel like I learned so much more than I could ever put in show notes.
I’ve loved this year. I love my small but might community. (Are you in the community? You should be!) I’m happy to still be going strong and hope this is the year to really dig in now that I have some great content and fabulous guests behind me to GROW. I hope what I learned in a year of podcasting might save you some trouble and some time!
Any questions about podcasting? Thoughts from your own experience?